Another 269 special class places in primary and post-primary schools are opening in the new term.
It brings to 2,118 the number of special classes in mainstream schools, providing about 12,700 places, a 14pc increase of 1,600.
The special classes cater for pupils with additional needs and offer opportunities for children to move between mainstream classes and special classes, as necessary. Most cater for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD)
Since 2011, there has been an almost four-fold increase in number of special classes in mainstream schools, up from a low base of 548.
Many schools are establishing a special class for the first time and, over the years, parents in many communities have struggled to find a special class place for a child, and there continues to be unmet need
Legislation enacted in 2018 gave new powers to the minister for education to require school open a special class where there so a shortage of places and this has driven the growth in recent years.
Junior Minister for special education Josepha Madigan said this year’s increase was “another step on the road to strengthening support and inclusion in our education system for the benefit of all students and will ensure that students have the supports needed to reach their full potential.”
She said it would be a great support to parents and families of young people with special educational needs who had a professional recommendation for a special class place,